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Facing flak, Bihar rethinks plan to demolish Khuda Baksh library room for Patna flyover

Under pressure from intellectuals over the possible demolition of a reading room inside the historic Khuda Baksh Oriental Library, Bihar government has decided to reduce the width of a particular stretch of a proposed flyover on Patna’s Ashoka Road.

Road construction department additional chief secretary Amrit Lal Meena said, “The BRPNNL (Bihar Rajya Pul Nirman Nigam Limited) decided to reduce the width of the proposed overbridge for a certain distance to ensure that the Lord Curzon reading hall…is not demolished.”

The proposed 2.1-km double-decker flyover will link Kargil Chowk to the National Institute of Engineering chowk and to Ganga Path, another mega project.

The library was opened in 1891 by Khan Bahadur Maulvi Khuda Baksh, a Siwan landlord, with over 4,000 manuscripts. In 1905, then viceroy of India Lord Curzon was so impressed by the library’s rich collection that he constructed the reading room. In 1969, the Centre acknowledged it as an institution of national importance. At present, the library has over 21,000 manuscripts, mostly in Arabic and Persian, as well as important writings in Sanskrit, along with over 2.5 lakh books.

In a letter to Patna DM Chandrashekhar in April, the library’s director Shayesta Bedar wrote, “The (library) board was of the view that the possibility of saving the portions of the library be explored, keeping in view the significance of the library as the biggest cultural heritage of the state.”

Amid a row over the proposed demolition of the reading room two months ago, road construction department minister Nitin Nabin had also hinted at a review of the plan.

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